Jyri Lustig, Niko Matilainen, Jussi-Pekka Manner and Matti Mäkelä (Corpsessed) interviewed

** Finnish death metal lords Corpsessed have come out of an unlikely grave. Formed in 2007 in the quaint town of Järvenpää from Tyranny and BeDimmed members, the Finns quickly set out to craft death based on their predecessors--no need to name names, really--but with a modern, individual touch. The group's debut EP The Dagger & the Chalice was received well by many a former tape-trader and letter writer, but new album Abysmal Thresholds is something else. Broader, darker, and more dangerous, it's the definition of Finnish death in 2014. How do dark ambient and death metal come together in Corpsessed? Basically, I’m asking what inspires you musically? Jyri Lustig: The “dark ambient” stuff we have is pretty much for setting the right mood for the songs. The synth stuff and samples we have are used a lot of times to adjust the musical arrangement to the lyrical theme of the song. It shouldn’t, and doesn’t in our case, overpower the song itself. Matti Mäkelä: As to what inspires us musically, it’s a combination of lots of things and experiences. From the classic albums of early ‘90s to the more current ones (mostly death, black and doom metal), gigs we have seen, certain atmospheres, movie soundtracks and the aforementioned dark ambient. But in the end the music we do is still quite purely death metal.

Do you see Corpsessed as a direct descendent of the classic Finnish death metal bands? Niko Matilainen: Well, yes, but rather than a direct descendent musically, I think it’s more about a certain mindset that we share with them. You can definitely hear the influences from Finnish death metal, but you can also hear a whole variety of other influences, some that are outside metal. Matti Mäkelä: Classic Finnish death metal was what I listened to a lot as an early teenager in the nineties and now that I compose my own music, that is certainly something I draw influence from. In that sense, perhaps, but like Niko said the influences are much broader than that.

What separates Corpsessed from other death metal? Niko Matilainen: I would say that's for everyone to find out and judge for themselves. Best compliment we have gotten so far, I think, is that even though our music can be quite extreme and chaotic, the songs are still memorable and have a certain catchiness to them. Jyri Lustig: The variability of our songs is one of our strongest suits. A lot of it has to do with the doom metal influences that Matti and I share, it brings a lot of variation to the songs and keeps things interesting.

Is there something inherently Finnish about Corpsessed? Back in the early ‘90s Finnish death metal was noted for its deep, guttural vocals. Matti Mäkelä: Sure, Demilich and Thergothon, for example, might be known for the extremely deep guttural vocals, but for me the most notable characteristic of Finnish death metal was more about the totally dark and obscure atmosphere, bizarre song structures, suffocating sound of distortion, minimalistic yet morbid guitar leads. The Finnish mentality is primitive, melancholic and quite eccentric. We don’t write our music just to be a rehash of old ideas or some retro-thing, but still all these are attributes we value and uphold in our own music very much.

The Dagger & The Chalice had lyrical concepts tied to it. What’s happening conceptually on Abysmal Thresholds? Clearly, you’re not talking about female genitalia. Matti Mäkelä: Abysmal Thresholds is not a concept album (neither was The Dagger & The Chalice for that matter), and there’s no constant running theme behind the songs. That’s also one of the reasons why it was at first difficult for us to name this album. We had to take a step back, and examine the songs we had written and what they were generally about. This was when it dawned on us that the grand theme was pretty much crossing different thresholds—be it a metaphysical one of transcension, or that step after which all hope is gone, death seen as a threshold, or a threshold of Lovecraftian cosmic horror. [Laughs] Sure, The Dagger & The Chalice also had a sexual connotation in the title, so if you want to see the female genitalia as an abysmal threshold of the womb, feel free to do so! We leave the title open to interpretation.

A lot of bands use the occult as lyrical fodder. Dark topics for dark music. Are you guys practicing occultists or are things on offer from Corpsessed more fiction? Matti Mäkelä: I have to say that it’s not something we share as a group. For some of the members the occult themes are more a trivial and fictional interest—dark words that accompany the dark music. Two of us, on the other hand, are followers of the left hand path. Our ways of working on our own self-mastery and development are different, mostly being more study and meditation oriented and not really indulging into the ritual side of magick, though I don’t dismiss these experiences at all. The difficulty (at least for me) lies in setting or allowing yourself to sink in to the required state of mind. Studying words will only take you so far, when actual experiences will give you a greater push, if you allow yourself to give it power. Because what it’s about in the end, is the strength of your will and exercising it. I might not make much sense to you right now, but that doesn’t really matter and I don’t really wish to speak about this further—the subject is highly personal. Let’s just say that on the subject of Corpsessed, in the end, we are a band performing music and not an occult congregation performing rituals (as some bands would probably like you to believe!), and the lyrics are mostly fictional stories, but the interest to write them stems from a specific and keen interest of certain topics on a personal level.

Abysmal Thresholds is your debut. What’s it like to finally realize a full-length after two EPs? Jyri Lustig: It feels pretty euphoric. It’s been a long time coming, and I think after The Dagger EP we were a bit short on material and the time wasn’t right to release a full-length, so we went with the 7” release instead. Looking back I’m glad we decided to do this, had we released our full-length debut back then, it would not have been remotely as good as Abysmal Thresholds is now.

Were there songs you knew had the right feeling from the beginning? What did that feel like? Jyri Lustig: Every song has to have an initial good feeling about it, otherwise the whole thing is scrapped. The riffs and the atmosphere have to sit well with us. Basically, the more crushing the riffs sound, the better. “Transcend Beyond Human” was a song that was put together in one day’s time, as for “The Threshold” was completely different, a real struggle to mold it to its final shape, but we stuck to it because we knew we had captured something really good in it, and it ended up becoming a favorite track for the most of us in this album.

Did you approach Abysmal Thresholds different from your EPs? Jussi-Pekka Manner: Quite a lot, actually. This time we did demo versions and click tracks for the whole album. The two EPs were more or less done like demos, at least the drum parts, and with Abysmal Thresholds we recorded the drums in a more professional manner. Jyri Lustig: With the guitars, bass and vocals, there were no really big differences doing our debut album compared to the EPs. We did however spend a lot more time polishing every detail concerning the album, from music to artwork, we didn’t want to compromise on anything. But safe to say we were really excited to dive in to the whole process of making the album. A debut album I think is always something special, and we really wanted to make it perfect, which I think we accomplished pretty well, we’re all very satisfied of the end result.

What did the recording take out of Corpsessed? Easy or difficult for you guys to get through? Jyri Lustig: The recording process itself was no issue for us. The drums were recorded in two days with L.Laaksonen (Desolate Shrine) engineering, the rest of it was recorded during the summer of 2013 in Matti’s apartment. It was time consuming though, four guitar tracks per song total, plus leads and two bass tracks per song, but we had many short recording sessions so it didn’t really get tedious (except maybe for Matti for engineering and recording the rest of us taking lots of re-takes, haha). Of course, a couple of beers were consumed along the process so it was pretty laid back most of the times. Matti Mäkelä: Mixing the album however proved to be something else and really difficult, and I asked D.L. (Cruciamentum, Resonance Sound Studios) to help me with the final mix and master. He deserves a huge credit for this. On the whole, if you look at the entire process of the album, starting from composing the first riffs and ending in holding the CD in your own hands—it was not an easy task at all. It took a lot of work and effort, and really tested our mental limits on more than one occasion. Now that the album is complete though, one can only feel relieved and proud.

What record inspired the group the most in 2013? Matti Mäkelä: So, you are basically asking what were our top albums of 2013? As a collective, we’ll mention the releases from Bölzer, The Ruins of Beverast, and Nails, which were all great records! All in all, the year 2013 was rather bland though, seeing many releases that were just OK. But nothing spectacular. I think what inspired me more in 2013 than any record, were meeting certain individuals, conversations, different experiences, performances seen, etc. throughout the year.

Now that you have a full-length out, what are you planning next? Matti Mäkelä: There are now great plans yet. The only plans we have set at the moment are playing a few gigs and after that slowly start composing new material again when there is inspiration for it. But don’t expect another full-length album too soon. That will take time. But who knows, the future is always unknown and obscure.

** Corpsessed's new album, Abysmal Thresholds, is out now on Dark Descent Records. It's available HERE, along with other cool products by the Finns.

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